A review of Blitzen Trapper’s Oct. 29, 2014 show at The Crocodile.
Of the three separate times I’ve seen Blitzen Trapper (the folk-rock quintet based out of Portland, Ore.) play in Seattle, their most recent show at The Crocodile on October 29 tops my list as the absolute best. Eric Earley is without a doubt awkward and shy for a frontman; at all three shows I’ve seen he’s barely talked to or even looked at the audience for the entirety of the show. But when the lights dim and “Fletcher,” a comforting southern-rock tune comes on as the first of the set, you really can’t help but to forget about the awkwardness and stand in awe of Earley’s unique Bob Dylan-esque vocals, impressive guitar-playing and sensational song-writing skills.
Really though, this band is so good that their recorded music can’t do them enough justice. About halfway through the show they whip out their hit “Thirsty Man” from their most recent album “VII.” Just when I think I can’t like them any more than I already do, they exceed my expectations; near what I think is the end of the song the lights dim a bit further, the music softens, Eric Earley paints a serious look on his face, and I think to myself, is this transitioning into a Pink Floyd cover? After a bit of suspenseful improvising, light explodes into the venue, the music gets louder and you can’t help but start dancing again until the song comes to an end.
“Jericho,” written by the band’s own Marty Marquis, gave me the chills with its incredible harmonies (my only complaint is that the song is less than three minutes long). And if you’re still not convinced, they also threw in a cover of “Don’t Let Me Down” which got the entire venue singing in goosebumps-inducing fashion. I must say though, that my personal highlight of the show was meeting guitar-player Erik Menteer outside and getting a photo taken of me strangling him (upon his request).
Listening to their current music you’d place them in the southern-rock and folk genre without a doubt. I recently gave their early-’00s material a listen and was amazed by the amount of maturing and refining that must have gone on throughout their career. Their first two albums, “Blitzen Trapper” and “Field Rexx,” started without a concrete genre. You can’t help but think there are some elements of folk in there, topped with a little rock and yes, even some electronic elements. They’re unpredictable and it’s pretty tough to put your finger on just which genre should be used to classify them. “Destroyer of the Void” ventured more into folk territory with a hint of indie. Fast forward to the 2011 masterpiece “American Goldwing” and it’s pretty clear they’ve established themselves in the southern-rock and folk music scene by this point. And all the while they’ve managed to keep some of the electronic elements.
Rumor has it these guys are concocting a new album, and they’ve even got some more tour dates posted. So if you’re in need of some seriously under-appreciated southern rock-folk, then please, do yourself a favor and check out this band.